Lots of Difficulties in South Korea

Ever since our first year performing in Seoul in 2007, it’s been very difficult to book theaters in South Korea. Although democratic and supposedly free, the country seems rather susceptible to CCP interference, at least when it comes to Shen Yun. The best and most prestigious theaters in the country are controlled by various levels of government, and year after year they prove difficult if not impossible to rent.

You might recall how, in 2011, the theater in Busan canceled the performances due to CCP pressure and then on the day of the first show, the local court ruled that Shen Yun be allowed to perform. The setup for the first show started at lunch, was completed in half the time, and the company performed in front of a sold-out house.

In 2016, in Seoul, we weren’t as lucky. We were scheduled to perform at KBS Hall and, in a back-and-forth affair, were eventually locked out. Here’s a video we made at the time about it:


So what happened in 2023?

  • This year, in order to book shows in South Korea, the local presenters contacted independently owned and operated theaters, and were given positive responses about the possibility of renting their theaters for Shen Yun performances. But when it came to the final step of securing the venues, the local presenters were repeatedly informed that “due to political and religious elements in the performance” the venues could not be rented. This included theaters that were able to be rented in previous years. The suspicion is that the theaters were influenced by the CCP or PRC embassy.
  • In Gumi, where two performances were held at the Gumi Arts Center Grand Hall, the Chinese Consulate in Busan directly called the Gumi city government warning the city not to allow the venue to be rented to Shen Yun, and also sent a letter.
  • In Busan, presenters signed a contract to perform at Sohyang Theater, which belongs to Dongseo University. Dongseo University has close cooperation with Chinese universities and has a Confucius Institute. About two months after signing the contract, the PRC side “expressed regret” to the university that the performances were scheduled and asked that they be canceled. At the time, Dongseo University then canceled the contract. The local presenters took the case to court to block the cancelation. The presenters won the case, and only then learned that Dongseo University had been consulting the Chinese Embassy about whether or not to allow Shen Yun to perform.
  • As far as renting the Seoul National Theater, the Chinese Embassy used the form of a civil lawsuit (filed under the name of individual Wu Mingyu) to claim that Shen Yun is a performance propagating Falun Gong and should therefore be canceled. Presenters have not been able to rent this theater as a result.
  • Every year, in every theater where Shen Yun performs, there is a protest outside led by a woman named Wu Mingyu, who is the one who instigated the civil lawsuit. The protests are professionally organized and set up, with a consistent number of individuals, commercially produced displays and signs. This year, they applied for permits and carried out protests in front of every theater’s entrance. They also printed a full-page ad attacking Shen Yun and Falun Gong in The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest and oldest daily paper (rough estimated cost is $9,850 USD). Three of the individuals involved in this group had previously attempted a protest on the balcony of the Seoul National Theater of Korea – they had snuck in during intermission and set up their protest with banners before being removed by theater personnel.

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